Kansas City Chiefs: Roster analysis

Here's another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We'll continue here with the safeties.

End of 2013: Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, Quintin Demps, Husain Abdullah

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Berry, Abdullah, Sanders Commings, Jerron McMillian

Analysis: That the Chiefs passed on adding a safety through unrestricted free agency and the draft would indicate they're satisfied with either Commings or Abdullah starting along with Berry. Commings, a fifth-round draft pick last year, looked as if he was going to challenge for playing time last year before a broken collarbone suffered in training camp ruined his rookie season. Abdullah did a nice job for the Chiefs last season as a reserve, but he's been a backup most of his career for a reason. Whoever starts with Berry will play with a steadying influence and one of the NFL's best safeties. I listed McMillian as the fourth safety because he has a history with general manager John Dorsey when they were with the Green Bay Packers. But there's an opportunity for a younger player to claim a roster spot.

Better or worse? Worse. Too much uncertainty for my tastes. Lewis and Demps didn't play well, particularly toward the end of the season. But the Chiefs haven't improved just because they're gone.
Here’s another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We’ll continue here with the cornerbacks.

End of 2013: Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker, Dunta Robinson.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Flowers, Smith, Cooper, Parker, Phillip Gaines, Chris Owens.

Analysis: The Chiefs prefer bigger cornerbacks who can match up physically with the NFL’s bigger receivers. At 5-foot-9, Flowers doesn’t qualify. He didn’t play well last season, raising questions about how well-suited he is for the Chiefs and their preferred defensive style. The other starter is Smith, and he, Cooper, Parker and Gaines are 6-foot or taller. Owens is 5-foot-9 but he’s a veteran who will mostly cover slot receivers. Cooper, a rookie last season, started well but was horrible later in the season. Gaines, the third-round pick, is the major addition to this group. But after playing at Rice, he has an adjustment to make in moving to the NFL. He can certainly make it more quickly than this, but it’s wise to expect little from him as a rookie.

Better or worse? A tough call. I’m counting on an improved pass rush to make things better in coverage.
Here’s another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We’ll continue here with the linebackers.

End of 2013: Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Akeem Jordan, Justin Houston, Robert James, Nico Johnson, Josh Martin, Dezman Moses, Frank Zombo.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Hali, Derrick Johnson, Houston, Nico Johnson, Martin, Moses, Zombo, Dee Ford, Joe Mays, James-Michael Johnson.

Analysis: Hali, Houston and Derrick Johnson are Pro Bowlers but Hali is 30 and Johnson 31, so it’s time to watch their games for signs of decline. Houston, meanwhile, is just heading into the prime of his career. He had 11 sacks in just 11 games last year and could challenge for the league lead if he stays healthy. Ford, as the first-round draft pick, is the major addition. He’s transitioning from college defensive end and may play only in passing situations. Beyond that, rookies often don’t have impact as pass-rushers early in their careers, so it’s wise not to count on much from him in that regard. Mays is the other addition. He replaces Jordan, who quietly had a nice season for the Chiefs as a run defender.

Better or worse? Better. We’re predicting Hali and Derrick Johnson continue to play well and Houston to stay in the lineup and have a big season. It’s a big win if the Chiefs get a lot from Ford.
Here’s another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We’ll continue here with the defensive line.

End of 2013: Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe, Mike DeVito, Allen Bailey, Mike Catapano, Jaye Howard, Jerrell Powe.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Poe, DeVito, Bailey, Catapano, Howard, Vance Walker.

Analysis: Much depends on Walker, who was signed as a free agent to replace Jackson. Walker was mostly a backup until he moved into the starting lineup last season for the Oakland Raiders. Perhaps he was a one-year wonder or perhaps his development was just delayed, but the Chiefs are counting on Walker to play the run as well as Jackson did last season and be a more effective pass-rusher. He will be helped by the mere presence of Poe, who attracts so much attention from opposing blockers that others around him benefit. DeVito was a strong run defender last season but comes out of the game on passing downs. Bailey and Catapano have pass-rush ability off the bench. The Chiefs may keep more than six linemen, so there’s an opportunity for a younger player if he shows well at training camp.

Better or worse? Tough call but we’ll go with better. Walker is a more well-rounded player than Jackson.
Here's another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We'll continue here with the offensive line.

End of 2013: Branden Albert, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Geoff Schwartz, Eric Fisher, Jon Asamoah, Rishaw Johnson, Eric Kush, Donald Stephenson, Rokevious Watkins

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Allen, Hudson, Fisher, Johnson, Stephenson, Kush, Watkins, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Zach Fulton, Jeff Linkenbach, J'Marcus Webb

Analysis: Free agency hit the Chiefs hard here. They lost Albert, their starting left tackle, as well as Asamoah and Schwartz, who split time as the starting right guard. The Chiefs had done a nice job of building their depth at these positions but it's difficult to overcome the loss of three regulars within a matter of hours and a case could be made that Albert and Schwartz were their best linemen last season. Fisher moves from right tackle to left. He may eventually be a better player than Albert but it's unreasonable to expect that right away. Fisher had offseason shoulder surgery, which set him back in his quest to get stronger in his upper body. Johnson will get the first shot at the starting right guard spot and has enough ability to eventually develop into a solid player. Again, it's not reasonable to expect that right away. Depth is also now an issue, though the Chiefs might have eased the situation with the signings of Linkenbach and Webb.

Better or worse? Worse. No team could lose what the Chiefs did and expect the situation to improve.
Here’s another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We’ll continue here with the wide receivers.

Bowe
End of 2013: Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster, A.J. Jenkins, Junior Hemingway.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Bowe, Avery, Jenkins, Hemingway, Weston Dressler, Frankie Hammond, De'Anthony Thomas.

Analysis: This position was already a disappointment last year and trouble signs abound again. Bowe had what was statistically the worst full season of his career and he will be 30 in September. That’s not an age when many receivers make a leap in production. Avery had what for him was a typical season, so he probably won’t deliver much more. Thomas, a fourth-round draft pick, could have an impact as a slot receiver, but it’s not realistic to expect him to give more than McCluster did last season. The Chiefs are hopeful of a big jump from Jenkins, pointing to the big catch he had in the playoff loss to Indianapolis. It may happen, but it’s not wise for the Chiefs to count on it. Kyle Williams had knee surgery late last season, making it difficult to predict if he will make the roster or be able to contribute any time soon. But if he’s healthy in time, he could help.

Better or worse? Worse. The Chiefs lost McCluster, their second-leading wide receiver but didn't replace him with a proven commodity.
Here is another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs, roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We’ll continue here with the tight ends.

Kelce
End of 2013: Anthony Fasano, Sean McGrath, Richard Gordon.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Fasano, McGrath, Demetrius Harris, Travis Kelce.

Analysis: The Chiefs, after losing Kelce and Tony Moeaki for the season and Fasano for seven games last year because of injuries, pieced together a decent season from their tight ends with the help of McGrath. They caught 53 passes last season, but look for that number to jump significantly if Kelce is healthy. He adds a nice dimension to their passing game because of his size (260 pounds) and his ability to catch passes down the field. Harris, a basketball player in college, has the potential to help in the passing game. Fasano was a durable player his first seven NFL seasons, but is now 30 and it’s natural to wonder after his injury troubles last season how much he has left. If healthy he can help the Chiefs as a receiving threat in the red zone.

Better or worse: Better unless multiple injuries strike the tight ends, as they did last season.
Here’s another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs' roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We'll continue here with the running backs.

End of 2013: Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Cyrus Gray, Anthony Sherman.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Charles, Davis, Gray, Sherman, Joe McKnight.

Analysis: For our purposes, we’re going to count rookie De'Anthony Thomas as a receiver and not a running back. He may play some here but Charles and Davis should get most of the playing time. So this group could be the same unless there’s an injury or McKnight is able to steal Gray’s roster spot. Sooner or later, Charles' ability to deliver consistently huge production will drop off, but I’m not going to predict it this year. Davis came a long way from the start of last season to the finish. If he’s recovered from his broken leg, he’s capable of giving the Chiefs more than he did last season. Sherman, the fullback, should have another big season as the lead blocker.

Better or worse? Slightly better based off predicted improvement from returning players.
With this post, we're going to start a detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs' roster by position and determine whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We'll start now with a look at the quarterbacks.

End of 2013: Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Smith, Daniel, Bray, Aaron Murray.

Analysis: It's difficult to argue that the addition of Murray has made the Chiefs worse at quarterback. Smith turned 30 this month but his skills showed no sign of erosion last season. In fact, he got better as the season went on, a process that could well continue in 2014. Daniel can only be better next season for the experience he received in starting the final regular-season game of 2013. Murray may or may not be an upgrade over Bray as a developmental prospect. But if the decision comes down to the two of them for the No. 3 quarterback spot, the Chiefs need to go with the player with the best future and not Murray just because he is a drafted player. They need to make him, and Bray for that matter, earn it.

Better or worse? Slightly better based off predicted improvement from returning players.

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